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The Brookhaven Courier

Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

BHC hosts mother-daughter art exhibition

Linley Nyirenda
Lisa Ehrich points to one of her pieces in the forum gallery on Sept. 6.

Lisa Ehrich was an art professor at Dallas College Brookhaven Campus for 44 years and has been retired for one year. She now takes art classes at Brookhaven. She is also the creator of the “Like Mother Like Daughter” art show in the Forum Gallery, which showcases Ehrich and her mother Leah Ehrich’s works. The gallery is open Aug. 21 through Oct. 6.

Growing up, many forms of art were an important part of Lisa’s life and were introduced to her through her mother. “She believed that to be a well-rounded person you had to take art lessons,” Lisa said.

As a result, Lisa took dance and piano lessons as a child. But this was not the only form of art which was prominent in Lisa’s upbringing. Lisa has several cherished memories of her family frequently viewing different forms of art in the Memphis, Tennessee area. Lisa said: “We would go to museums, galleries and to the orchestra symphony. They loved to take us to performances.”

Leah’s passion for art is what inspired Lisa to become an artist, Lisa said. Whenever she wasn’t working or taking care of the children, she was taking art classes or working on a project. Leah encouraged Lisa and her sister to help her with art projects she created at home. Lisa developed a deep love and appreciation for art. She aspired to become a professor, teach art and to share her gifts with others.

Collage of paintings.
A collage of nine paintings by Leah Ehrich. (Emmy Hardy)

“I started as a part-time adjunct faculty in the art department,” Lisa said: “I was kind of at the right place at the right time when the following year one of the full-time faculty moved away and they had a position available. I applied and interviewed for the position and got it.”
Similar to her daughter, Leah’s love for art started at a young age. Lisa said Leah’s parents encouraged and nurtured her creative interest in art once they noticed she had a passion for drawing. It all started with the chalk pad she received as a child.

But one of the paintings which signifies the beginning of Leah’s career as an artist is a painting of the art department at Louisiana State University, the school Leah attended. Lisa said: “It feels very reminiscent of the late 1930s and early 1940s. We’ve always loved this painting.”

Painting of Leah Ehrich
A painting of Leah Ehrich by her daughter Stella Ehrich Brownstein. (Emmy Hardy)

Lisa and her mother were not the only artists in the family. Lisa’s sister, Stella Ehrich, is a full-time painter and created the portrait of Leah displayed in the art show. When Stella is not creating portrait paintings, she is often painting landscapes or interiors. The painting to the right of the portrait of Leah is a portrait of Leah’s great-grandmother, created by Leah.
Leah was dedicated to becoming a better artist, Lisa said. At the end of every week, Leah had a stack of drawings ready for critique. Leah would find Lisa’s partner. Lisa said: “He used to be the dean of fine arts here. She wanted his feedback every Friday night and she would have a stack of drawings for the week for him to go through.”

During the last years of her life, Leah developed macular degeneration, a condition that significantly blurs the eyesight. “You start losing your vision in the center of your eyes so you can see the periphery of objects but you can’t see the details of what’s inside,” Lisa said.

But Lisa said this did not stop Leah from getting up every day and doing exactly what she loved – creating works of art, some of which are even in the Forum Gallery at Brookhaven. Many of the still-lifes that can be found in the gallery were inspired by the objects and surroundings on Leah’s dining room table, which was also her art studio at one point. She metaphorically described these paintings as having their own personalities, and being in conversation with each other.

Lisa said Leah’s artwork was Leah’s pride, as well as a part of who Leah was as a human being. Lisa said, “What I think is remarkable about her work is the dedication, the passion, the joy and excitement she had. It’s a testament to what art means to individuals and who it impacts.”

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